The Bug Report
The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 18 Number 3
Editor for the GS-BUG Report
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
The PC Cooling Solution
PC Wizard: Questions & Answers
A WEB SITE FOR EVERYONE PART 3
If you would like to help the club by preparing our monthly News Letter, contact:President G. Sexton at: (310) 373-3989 E;Mail- firstname.lastname@example.org or Keith Decker ( e np Editor) at: (310) 540-0794 E;Mail - email@example.com
by BOB HUDAK E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am now in my 12th year as Librarian for our club. The library has gone through a number of changes during that time period.
I did not know that I stepped into what seems a life time job. l do not have lock on this job so if it is something you would be interested in doing, let our President know. l have very little interest from members for programs any more. It leaves me with incentive to find and catalog and make copies of new programs. With so many of you on the interned you are able to find programs that interest you and download on your own. l understand that. l am only trying to support members that are yet not connected. So l want you to make request for the programs you are interested in. I will make a CD for you if you have a number of programs, or large programs-that will not fit on a floppy, and bring them to you at the general meeting or one of the sig meetings I attend. Other arrangements can be worked out. Call: 323-0579 or better, send email. If you do not have a modem and free email, something is wrong. I am putting some information together for you on buying a modem from Shark Multimedia. Next month I will have information in the news letter.
Last month at our general meeting we had OnTrack come show us some of their programs and tell us about data recovery. They brought about 10 door prizes and a case of M5enix Fix-it Utilities. Everyone was invited to take a copy of the Fix-it Utilities program. I hope some of you that took a copy will find time to give us a short report on how you used it and what your results where. Our editor will be able to combine these reports into a fine review of the product. OnTract has a small program called Data Advisor, that they talked about. This program comes on a 3 1/2" floppy that is used to boot your system. It checks your hard drive and the rest of your system to detect if you have any hardware problem. We use the program several times already at our Tue. afternoon hardware session at the Torrance Scout Center. This program looks like one that every computer owner should have in his tool box of fix it programs. Be prepared. I will have copies in the library for you. Pick one up now and be ready when trouble strikes. It is a good idea to run the program when your computer is working good so you can see what the report is on your system when all is right.
Our club has received two cooling fans 2COOLPC and 2COOLPCPLUS which are designed to work on the PC and the PLUS for a server that works more and generates more heat. It consumes 50% more electrical power thus has about 50% more forced air flow. Pricing is $24.95 and 34.95 but discounts will be offered at the presentation. Please see Bob Hudak our Librarian if you wish to try a club demo. Then if the product is helpful you may wish to purchase one for your PC at the coming presentation. Bob's email and telephone information is available as well other club officer's in your GS Bug newsletter. Please call Bob if you wish to evaluate a unit and do a written review for insertion in our newsletter and web site. An indoor/outdoor thermal meter at $15 can be obtained at Harbor Freight to measure internal and external temperatures of the PC. These cooling fans are designed to be installed inside your computer very easily. They will eliminate frustrating overheating problems that plague PCs. 2COOLPC utilizes the volume of air inside your computer case. Their unique airflow design allow air to be directed to the motherboard, other cards, CPU, the RAM chips, all drives and the power supply. Nothing is missed. The operating temperature of your PC will drop as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Units inside the PC case operate cooler than PC operation without its case. The fan assembly can be installed in about 5 minutes. South Bay Engineering guarantee these products, you have nothing to lose except your overheating problems. For more visual and written information on this cooling product please visit Http://www.2coolpc.com .
Plan on attending this presentation to be given in April or June depending on scheduling. Also on the agenda are products by Computer Bath which will be reviewed, analyzed and offered for sale. These feature items to allow cleaning of PCs. Cleaning is required for achieving best cooling.
By Dr. John Hanson
Is membership worth it? You bet, in many ways. The general meeting for February had two excellent large programs, either one of which could be worth the $36. Alex gave a terrific program on how to get the most out of your computer and best of all he provided a disk of what he said and showed so you could review it at your leisure. The main speaker was from on Track, the company that makes the wonderful "Disk Manager" program that I have used for years and that most hard drive manufacturers include with their drives. The speaker was so good and gave out so much useful information that it was easily worth your whole years dues. In addition, he gave each of us a copy of "Fix it Utilities 99" by Mijenix which includes an excellent book of about 300 pages as well as the software both in CD-Rom and floppy disk. As if that were not enough he also included about 13 copies of "Zip Magic 98" forour drawing. It also includes an excellent 100 page manual. That is just one general meeting with so much value.
Attend any of the SlGs and again you get your money's worth just in one session. Imagine, being able to bring your computer to either of the two hardware SlGs and have so many experts there to solve your problems. Easily worth your yearly dues. So please pass along this information to prospective members, even if they don't have time to attend many of the sessions. Just reading Frank Chao's excellent articles on the Internet is worth it, even if you never attend any meetings. Our newsletter editor does such an excellent job selecting articles that you should save them in a binder for future reference. One of these days someone will volunteer to make an index for each year.
Did you miss the February Meeting? Wow, what a terrific program by Chris Doyle of on Track Int'l. He really knows every-thing about hard drives. I was expecting Mijenix to be there because I was so impressed with their presentation at Comdex that I invited them to come to our club which was then arranged by John Sellers. I had no idea that they had been bought out by on Track so we got a double bonus.
Did you know that on Track is the largest and best data recovery company in the world. So when your data goes south on your hard drive their services are a blessing. Many of us have thousands of dollars of data on our hard disks. It is wonderful that On Track has three levels of data recovery in the range of $1,300, $800 and finally $200 depending on what your problem might be. Some data recovery companies only offer the high end. The least expensive is a remote service where on Track experts can recover your data by modem. I don't remember what the $800 step includes but the $1,300 and over step involves taking your hard drive apart in a super clean room and seeing what they can do to ge the data off your platters. In many cases they can recover 90% or more of your data. From me let this be a reminder to back up important data regularly and try to keep the backup in a different physical location. I use floppies and then transfer that data to a computer at another location but still keep the floppies, just in case. It is easier to do backups once you have been burned one or more times. Another good way is to have two drives in your computer and use one for backups but you should still transfer data to a remote computer as well. One of the best ways to protect yourself currently is to have a writeable CD-Rom and burn a disk or two and keep them in remote locations. The disks are only about a dollar these days and the data is much more 'permanent than on magnetic media. Besides almost any CDRom can read a CD-R disk but not the more costly rewriteables.
Chris Doyle was a fountain of useful information and fielded even the most difficult member questions with ease and rankness. These days IBM makes the most reliable drives and licenses out some of their technology to others such as Western Digital. Chris likes Scuzzi but I prefer the standard EIDE because is it easier when you move hard drives from one computer to another.
Remember the days when all software came with printed manuals. On Track still provides them and even more important their software doesn't take over your computer without asking like Nuts & Bolts or Symantec. You tell it what you want and it does it. How refreshing! We all know that "Partition Magic" is one of the best programs for partitioning your hard drive but be very careful or it could become "Partition Tragic" and require expensive data recovery. Partition Magic is a very powerful tool like a surgeon's scalpel but in inexperienced hands you could be dead with the scalpel or lose your data with Partition Magic so be sure to read the manual carefully and back up your hard drive before you experiment. One of our best experts with Partition Magic is your club's DOS expert and librarian, Bob Hudak.
One of on Track's great programs is called "Data Advisor" and is available as a free download from their web page, onTrack.com. It fits on a regular floppy with about 80k to spare. It has its own operating system so you use it to boot your computer and it checks all of your hard drives and produces a detailed report on each including the manufacturer, model and serial number. It even tells you how they are partitioned and runs a number of test to see how they are. Don't run the original disk but make a separate copy for each computer as when it finishes it writes its report to the disk each time you use it. It is probably a good idea to run it fairly often as prevention is always better than an accident.
As soon as I got home I tried it on three of my computers and was dismayed to find that all three failed the file structure test, whatever that is. Now I need to read the readme file to see what I can do before things become serious. One of the computers had two hard drives and fortunately one passed all the tests. If anyone else has tried this program and has any ideas on how to fix file structure problems, let me know right away. The program also checks out your memory and Chris Doyle says that sometimes failures are caused by memory and not by the hard drive. All of my memory passed OK. I couldn't test a forth computer because the A: drive is a 5 1/4" and the contents of the 3 1/2" wouldn't quite fit and my experimentation with which files to leave out didn't work.
I sent an e-mail to Chris about my ale structure problems and he answered right away and said they were not so critical after all but I should run Scandisk, Disk Doctor or his own fix it utility to correct the problem. Scandisk didn't fix the problem and my Disk Doctor from Norton 6.0 from 1991 says it won't work on any drives having more than 8K bytes per sector. So far I haven't had time to use on Tracks Fix it utility than I won in the drawing and two of my computers don't have CD-Rom drives so I need to ask Chris which files I can transfer over by floppy.
Do you keep your hard drive cool? Who should realize the importance of this better than Chris Doyle who has probably seen the insides of thousands of hard drives. Take his advice and install more fans. I don't remember the name of the one he suggested but I presume it fits intoa5 1/4"bayandthe3 1/2" drive fits into that so that you get the best cooling with their heat sink and fan.
Should you leave your computer on? Yes, from when you turn it on in the morning til you shut if off at night. Like fluorescent lights the major trauma potential appears at turn on so once it is on, leave it on. If you have any power saving programs that shut off your hard drive motor, disable them right away. Your data is too precious.
Have you read any O'Reilly books? A great one I just got is called "Windows Annoyances 98". Bill Paradee has the 95 one Not only does it point out most of Windows weaknesses but it tells you how to fix them plus lots of other good advice on how to keep your computer working at its best. After hearing Chris Doyle's talk on keeping your hard drive cool I hope to take my computers out from their hiding places and clean them out carefully including the fan blades. I will also add a fan at the inlet grill on the front and another by each hard drive.
Years ago when I had a CP/M computer which cost me about $5,0001 installed a temperature probe inside so I could tell why the computer would tend to fail on hot days. By the way do any of you have a tendency to lay things on top of your monitor like I do? That is really bad for heat dissipation so I have tried a Couple of new techniques One was to mount an aluminum tray on top which gave me a level place to put papers without obstructing the vents on the top of the monitor. But if you don't have tools for cutting and bending aluminum it is better to use Plexiglas which is easy to saw to the right size. It is also easy to glue on a prop for the back end so the top is level. Then I use Velcro tape to fasten it at the front. It works great.
Can you avoid booting into Windows? For me it is very useful since I hate waiting for all that Windows garbage to load when I only want to use a DOS program. In the Windows root directory there is a file called MSDOS.sys. Since it is hidden you have to find the section where you can click on "Show all files". Then you have to change its attribute from Read only which can be done in Windows or with DOS attrib command. Call up the file with Notepad or any text editor such as TE or Edit and a few lines down you will see a line that says "Boot Gui = 1". Change that 1 to a 0 and save the file. You can even change it back to Read only for protection.
Boot Gui = 0 tells your computer to not boot up Windows so you see the DOS prompt of C:\ so you can use any of your DOS programs easily. When you want Windows, just type Win and press return key. When I did this with one of my computers something strange happened. It changed all the files in root to hidden, read only system files and neither my autoexec.bat or config.sys file would run until I changed their attributes. At John Sullivan's Windows 98 SIG he tried it on his computer and it worked perfectly without the complications I had so I need to try it on another computer.
Want more on Batteries? Martine gave me a battery to rejuvenate from her Toshiba notebook. Normally I don't accept Nickel Metal Hydride batteries but she said it didn't matter if I ruined it. Preliminary tests showed that two of the eight cells were bad and I had no idea of how the battery was constructed inside. The cover popped off easier than I expected and when I removed the insulation later I was completely amazed. No wonder their batteries cost so much. Inside was a marvel of efficient engineering. I only found one design error and that could have been intentional for competitive reasons or just an error.
That battery is worth whatever they charge. The first thing I noticed was that some how they were able to make the batteries rectangular which is usually not very efficient from a battery design standpoint. But it seems to work and saves all the extra volume wasted when you use round batteries. The use of high quality insulation, glue and Fiberglas tape showed a very complex but efficient design. In addition, there are three safety features, first a fusible link in case the battery is shorted and second a thermal cutout if high currents flow in charging or discharging. Finally there is a heat sensitive thermistor which shuts off the charging circuit if the battery gets too hot. This thermal cutout has always hindered me when trying to revive NiCad batteries from my older Toshiba notebook.
I wanted to test the limits of the battery without exploding it so ran it for about six hours at a charge of one ampere and while the cells got fairly hot they survived. To do this I had to bypass the safety features. After my inspection I concluded that trying to replace a cell in this battery is very impractical and would be very difficult to do, especially on the four cells near the terminals. So if you have Nickel Metal Hydride batteries take very good care of them and keep them charged as they are so difficult to fix. Perhaps another member has more expertise than 1. Lithium is much better in performance than Nickel Metal Hydride but probably also very difficult to fix. Now you see why I prefer Ni Cads.
Carl Warner brought in a NiCad battery for his Milwaukee electric screwdriver and one cell was beyond revival which I could tell when I drilled a tiny hole in the side of the battery case. I replaced both cells and now it works fine. It also has an excellent design inside but getting the polyethylene cap off does break some of the polystyrene battery case so it doesn't look as good but is very functional.
Be careful when buying gel cells at the swap meet. Not only should you have a voltmeter to measure the voltage but bring a low resistance load with you to see if the voltage drops below the specified voltage, either six or twelve, when under load. Normally you can tell the state of charge of gel cell with an accurate voltmeter but you have to aware of the surface charge which may make it seem like it is OK. If it has been charged in less than 24 hours earlier the voltage test is not truly indicative of a good battery so be careful.
As with many batteries you have several dangerous things to consider besides getting burned. Gel cells contain strong sulfuric acid the same as your car battery which is extremely dangerous so always wear a sturdy safety face mask. And be careful of sparks as these batteries give off flammable hydrogen gas when charging. Gel cells are safer than your car battery but still be careful.
With the other rechargeable batteries you have the opposite kind of extreme danger. Instead of acid they have a very strong alkaline chemistry, like the Iye you use in your kitchen or bathroom to dissolve hair and fats. If you get either kind on you be sure to use lots of water to clean it off immediately.
By Frank Chao
Hello. This the twentieth article in the "Internet Talk" series; and this will be the fourth monthly newsletter that has been edited by Keith Decker. Keith has been doing a fine job as our temporary newsletter editor. At the present time, we do not have a permanent newsletter editor yet so let me throw out another idea: if no permanent editor can be located, the club's bylaws should be amended to have the various members of the board of directors take turns at being our editor. Since we have 12 members on our board of directors, each board member will have to be our newsletter editor, only once per year. Let the various members of our board of directors, know what you think of this idea. If this idea turns out to be as unpopular as the ones that I expounded upon last month, I think I will quit writing these articles and take up stamp collecting instead. (Just kidding!)
NEWS ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES FREE-NET:
Reports of the demise of the Los Angeles Free-Net (LAFN) are greatly exaggerated. The Los Angeles Free-Net is still going strong, despite competitive pressures from the various totally free Internet Service Providers (ISPs): For example, only 19 people showed up at their last training session in Tarzana. This represents the lowest turnout in about 4 years. However, LAFN's dedicated "mentors", including Herman Krouse (our Internet SIG leader), continue to sign up and renew members by offering hands on assistance to people. Despite the $40 annual fee, the personal assistance aspect of LAFN membership is one feature that the totally free ISPs do not have.
"BLUELIGHT" IS A NEW FREE ISP: During the present month, a new totally free ISP called bluelight.com was introduced. They have local dial-up phone lines all over the United States, including the South Bay region of the Los Angeles area, where most GSBUG members live. Their free installation CD-ROMs are being distributed at the checkout counters of K-Mart stores. I found piles of them at the 2 K-Mart stores in Torrance, California, USA (at Hawthorne Blvd. And 190th AND at Crenshaw Blvd. and Lomita Blvd.) You can also download their software by going to http://www.bluelight.com/trip/index.shtml
SIX TOTALLY FREE ISPs:
There are now 6 totally-free dial-up ISPs with local phone numbers in the Greater Los Angeles area:
Bluelight, Worldspy, Freel, Netzero, Juno, and Altavista Connections
There are hyperlinks to all of their respective Websites at my personal homepage which is located at: http://fchao.tripod .com Let me know which one works best for you and I will discuss your comments in future articles.
PACIFIC BELL'S DSL SERVICE IS ON SALE:
Pacific Bell has reduced the price of their DSL Internet service: it used to cost $49 per month with an initial equipment cost of $199. Now it only costs $39.95 per month with no initial equipment cost. Existing subscribers can convert to the lower per-month cost. see http://www.pacbell.com/DSL for details. Their Internet service is about 100 times faster than a modem-based Internet connection. With this significant price reduction, they appear to be aggressively competing with cable modem services.
COMPABILITY FOR MULTIPLE ISPs:
All of these freebie ISPs are totally compatible with each other. For example, I have the software for all 6 of these ISPs loaded into my home computer and I can access the Internet by having my modem dial up by means of any of these 6 ISPs. Of course, I can only use one at a time. I continue to advise people to try more than one of these freebies so that they can have redundancy: when they get a busy signal from one ISP, they can then use another ISP. These freebie ISPs are also compatible with the Los Angeles Free-Net. However, if you wish to set up a computer with both the free ISPs and the Free-Net, please see my technical advice at http://www.Iafn.org/webconnect/multiple.txt since having both the Free-Net and one or more of the freebies on the same computer is a lot more complicated than just having the freebies on the same computer. This is because the LAFN uses a "proxy server" while none of the free ISPís do so.
A WARNING ABOUT COMMERCIAL ISPs:
Unlike the well-behaved installation software of the 6 free ISPs, if you install the software of a commercial ISP (the ISPs that charge you each month for their service), you can expect to have problems with accessing some or all of any other free or commercial ISPs that are already loaded into your computer. They don't seem to want to play fair so don't say that no one warned you ahead of time.
FILL OUT YOUR "CENSUS 2000" FORM THE EASY WAY:
Instead of mailing it back to the Department of Commerce, you can save yourself some time by doing it on-line at http://wwvv.2000.census.gov/index.html This is the first time that they have offered us an online method for filling out the forms. I recommend that you take advantage of it. It probably also saves the government some money when you do it online instead of mailing it via the United States Postal Service.
"GETSPEED" PROVIDES INTERNET SERVICE AVAILABILITY: To determine which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide DSL and cable modem Internet connections for a specific residential or business address anywhere in the United States, go to http://www.getspeed.com
"PeoplePC" PROVIDES A PACKAGE DEAL:
I saw an intriguing ad on television:
For $24.95 a month for 36 months, you get a 380 Megahertz computer with an on-site service warrantee and Internet access. Go to http://www.peoplepc.com for details. Their offer sounds like a great way to get started with computer ownership, if you do not have enough money to buy a low end computer with a regular purchase.
"HOMEGAIN" PROVIDES FREE HOME VALUATIONS:
To get an approximate valuation of the market value any residence or to get a free "Backyard Hazards Report", try Homegain's website at http://www.homegain.com
"NEARBY" SEARCHES ON THE WEB:
One of the most useful searches that you can perform on the World Wide Web is a "nearby" search at a "search engine" site. Try this: go to "Switchboard" at http://www.switchboard.com Now perform a single click on the "What's Nearby" hyperlink. Then type in an address (or just a city and state). Next, click on the ''Explore' button. Finally, click on type of business that you are looking for. The screens that you get will show businesses that are near the address that you specified. This listing of business will be sorted in the order of nearest to farthest, with an "as the crow flies" distance in miles. For example, you could find all motels near South Bend, Washington, including motels that are located in South Bend, Washington, using a search of this type. Try it. you will like it.
"ZONEALARM" PROVIDES PROTECTION FROM HACKERS:
To protect your computer from hackers on the Internet, go to http://www.zonealarm.com and download the latest version of "Zonealarm" for free. Then install it into your computer. "Zonealarm" is a software application that protects your computer from being accessed by hackers.
SOME INFORMATION ON "COOKIES" A t~cookieWHs a data file that a Web server can store on your computer. To learn about cookies, Charlie Semple, who is the vice president of the Los Angeles Computer Society, recommends that you go to http://www.idg.neUgo.cgi?id=232122
SOME TECHNICAL DETAILS ABOUT
To learn more about Uniform Resource Locators, see:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/helplwmosl20a51w m 1 1_1.htm
Liz Orban stated that she saw a booth in the Seattle airport that rented DVDs and players for $10. They were only available for certain cities: Portland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Denver, San Jose and San Diego. But they said they'd be expanding. The portable player is about the size of a CD player and has a small screen. She said she would have tried it in LA.
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by one of me following methods:
A WEB SITE FOR EVERYONE PART 3: HOW TO MAKE ONE
By Steve Morgan
Over 800 million web pages are in existence. More than 20,000 domain names are being egistered every week: will it ever stop? My guess is that it will only get worse. By the end of the year, there could be over 2 Billion web pages out there, so why not join in on the fun! So in this article we will talk about how anyone with Internet access can create his or her own web site!
These days, creating a simple web site is as easy as writing a letter. Edith most word processors, you can save the document you just created as a web page, just by clicking on file, and specifying "save as HTML". Even multiple pages will just save as a very long home web site. This is a great way to create a web site, add some pictures and then practice uploading it to your Internet Host.
Perhaps an even easier way to create a web site is to use one of he commercial services such as Yahoo/GeoCities. These sites use simple wizards to let you have creative control over how the web site looks. They let you import documents, pictures and create the links that bind everything together. As a test, I created 2 different web sites on Yahoo/GeoCities. My first simple web site took me 20 minutes to create (I was told it should take about 10 minutes), mainly because I was plagued by long waits between the set-up screens. I then went in and created an elaborate site, with several uploaded pictures and articles that were already stored on my computer. This site took me over 6 hours, with over an hour spent just uploading documents to the web. Both sites looked very good, since the wizards guide you on where to put pictures and text. Yahoo/GeoCities also lets you upload a pre-existing web site that you have made using other programs. This is a huge timesaver since you will not waste time uploading each individual document and using the Yahoo wizards. The downside to having a commercial site host your homepage is that they will put advertising on every page of your site.
My favorite program for creating web sites is Microsoft Publisher. With just a basic knowledge of creating documents with pictures, it is very easy to use the included Web Wizard to create a detailed web site. The same site that took 6 hours to create online took me less than 2 hours with Publisher. By using simple copy all and paste commands, along with its easy import picture commands, my web site took less than 30 minutes to set up and get the documents in place. Then I spent the next 90 minutes being picky as I aligned the text and pictures by using the "view as web page" command. As easy as it is to use, Publisher has a few drawbacks. First, it does not always accurately show exactly how the web page will look. Secondly there is no embedded File Transfer Protocol (FTP) utility that would allow it to be easily uploaded, this makes you download and learn 3rd party software.
Another Microsoft product, FrontPage is one of the most powerful consumer/professional web page creation programs out there. Unfortunately, it also has a high learning curve. It took me about 10 hours of reading the "FrontPage for Dummies" book and following along in order to start using FrontPage. I would estimate that it took about 20 more hours of experimenting with the program and consulting the book again before I was confident about my ability to create a good site. Once you do learn it though, FrontPage makes it a snap to create a web site that will look just as good on the web as it does on your computer. And since it includes its own File Transfer Protocol program, it is a snap to upload and update your pages with compatible hosting services.
Creating a Web Site is something that more and more people are doing. The last estimate that I have seen is that there are over 5 million personal web sites available on the web. I think that within 3 years, a majority of the worlds industrialized population will have their own web site. The coming incredible fusion of computers, wireless modems and the Internet will continue to make access to the Web as common as using a telephone is today. When you add in the hundreds of companies actively competing to host web sites, you should agree, there is no better time to start than today The Association of Computer User Groups (APCUG), of which this club is a member, brings this article to you. Stephen Morgan is the Program Chair for the Plateau PC Users Groups in Tennessee, and also serves as the Regional APCUG Advisor for North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
EDITORS If you decide to use this article, please send an email confirmation to Steve at email@example.com